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Ogdensburg council balks as time runs short for Zamboni purchase

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OGDENSBURG — The Richard G. Lockwood Civic Center needs a new Zamboni, but it is unlikely to get one before ice is laid.

The city’s 32-year-old Zamboni is dying and needs to be replaced, said Matthew J. Curatolo, director of parks and recreation.

City Council members have little time to consider their options, said Matthew R. Denner, buildings and grounds supervisor.

“This needs to be done soon,” he said. “We start using ice in November.”

Mr. Curatolo offered the council three options to replace the machine. One, a heavily used eight-year-old gasoline model, would have to be converted to use propane, he said.

Another, a more lightly used 1993 model, might not last long.

Mr. Denner said the city’s tactic of buying gasoline models and converting them to burn propane makes them short-lived.

“Propane burns hotter than gasoline, and that puts pressure on the engines,” he said. “Propane and gasoline engines are not lasting.”

The used models could be bought immediately but wouldn’t be in operation until December. Mr. Denner said it would take even longer to repair the old machine.

“We could send it for repairs, but we wouldn’t get it back until January or February,” he said.

That means the city will try to operate the broken Zamboni for at least one month this fall.

Mr. Curatolo advocated buying a new electric Zamboni that could be charged using solar panels installed on the civic center’s roof last year, which would cost $120,000. That price tag caused Deputy Mayor Michael D. Morley to balk.

“I’m not going to spend $120,000 on a Zamboni when there are other needs in the city,” he said. “We have a firetruck we know we’ve got to buy.”

Mr. Morley requested to see more options before voting to buy another Zamboni.

“I was told that there are 30 Zambonis we could look at right now,” he said. “I want to see the other 27.”

The electric model would require less maintenance, Mr. Curatolo said, and could last longer.

The city’s Recreation Commission echoed Mr. Curatolo’s suggestion.

“Too many times we do the Band-Aid approach,” said Douglas W. Loffler, commission member. “Your arena is part of the economic development in this community.”

Councilor Wayne L. Ashley agreed the city would be better served with a new Zamboni.

“The rink sees a lot of use,” he said. “I can’t see us buying somebody else’s problems.”

Council members said they would prefer to compare the purchase price, operating cost and expected maintenance of each machine before deciding on a purchase.

“The most expensive purchase could end up being the least expensive option in the long run,” Mayor William D. Nelson said.

The council directed Mr. Curatolo and interim City Manager Philip A. Cosmo to give it a cost-per-hour estimate of each machine, but as of Friday, it had not received the information.

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